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Slackwater

SLACKWATER DARTER

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma boschungi

CHARACTERISTICS: A member of the subgenus Ozarka, the slackwater darter is characterized by dusky, irregularly spaced blotches on the underside of the head and body, separate or nearly separate gill membranes, and a terminal mouth with a broad frenum. Males have a large and conspicuous bar below the eye. The back is crossed by three distinct saddles; some individuals have one or two additional weakly developed saddles. Breeding males have deep orange to orange-gold on the breast, gill membranes, cheeks, and mouth, while the upper half of the body is uniformly dark. The breeding female is dark above and light below, developing no conspicuous orange color. Additional diagnostic characteristics are given in Wall and Williams (1974).

ADULT SIZE: 1.6 to 2.4 in (40 to 60 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: The slackwater darter is know from disjunct populations in the Cypress Creek, Swan Creek, upper Shoal Creek, and Flint River systems in north Alabama and south-central Tennessee and from the headwaters of the Buffalo River in Tennessee.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Etheostoma boschungi exploits two distinct habitat types. For most of the year, individuals typically inhabit pool areas of small streams that contain organic debris. As streams swell from late winter and early spring rains, slackwater darters migrate into adjacent flooded lowland areas with spring seepage to spawn. Breeding populations have also been found in thick vegetation along the main channel of Swan Creek and Brier Fork of the Flint River (McGregor and Shepard, 1995). Spawning occurs from late January to March. Eggs are attached to vegetation. Nieland (1981) reports a diet of microcrustaceans and immature aquatic insects.

REMARKS: The type locality for the slackwater darter is Lindsey Creek in the Cypress Creek system, Lauderdale County, Alabama. The slackwater darter is listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Wall and Williams described the slackwater darter in 1974.

ETYMOLOGY:
Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.
Boschungi means in honor of Herbert T. Boschung, professor emeritus and former curator of the University of Alabama Ichthyological Collection.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division protects this fish from capture or possession. Federally listed as threatened, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has more information on the slackwater darter.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.

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